Sunday, May 28, 2006

Real and Present Harm

This past week in the Victoria Times Colonist, a writer complains about money and apologies given to aboriginals because the offenses addressed happened centuries ago. A Bear Mountain developer complains that the Songhees aboriginal people should have said something five years ago about their burial grounds on the mountain. And, Stephen Harper says the Kelowna Accord can be ignored because the Liberals didn't put it in their budget.

The letter writer should note, aboriginal claims are about harm to people who are alive today such as the victims of: residential schools, governments giving away aboriginal land, and treaty violations. Aboriginals have a treaty relationship with Canada and taking their children, their land, and their rights within their jurisdictions cause real harm - for which apologies are due and compensation is required.

As for the Bear Mountain developer, I wonder if the reason he did not hear the Songhees complaints five years ago is because he was not listening?

As for Stephen Harper, his claim is disingenuous. He brought down the government 72 hours after the Kelowna Accord was passed. Sadly, the PM said he would bring in his own plan - as opposed to one signed by every premier, the First Nations, and the federal government.

Rhetoric against aboriginal claims does not lead to workable settlements. The Prime Ministers approach - of disingenuous denial and paternal statements of my way is better - does not help.

Aboriginal disputes exist because real harm and complicated claims exist.

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